The Rhinebeck Sessions finds Spyro Gyra putting smooth jazz in their rear view mirror with their finest release since Break Out!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
This just in...smooth jazz is dead. Spyro Gyra is one of the very few super groups in contemporary instrumental music to survive the radio format whose influence has been several less than stellar releases with the exception of the 2011 release, A Foreign Affair. The Rhinebeck Sessions are the end result of a three day improvisational "roll tape" summit where this release was literally written and recorded on the spot. The end result is a high octane blast from the past that fully captures the excitement of a live gig while revisiting their initial almost global fusion vibe that has had legions of fans hooked since 1974.
Outside of the virtual live in studio recording, there are no vocals...Radio air play and commercial formats seem to have been tossed aside in favor of the pure joy of spontaneous creation and while the band has undergone some tweaking there is little doubt that this is the Spyro Gyra most of us fell in love with. Dissecting this release is somewhat pointless as the sound, the edge, and the creativity are all back and never better. The post bop riff "I Know What You Mingus" along with the jazz nasty in "Clubhouse Jam" may be two standout tracks but this is one of those rarities where the ebb and flow is such that there are no weak links on this release.
To associate Spyro Gyra with smooth jazz has been grossly unfair, labels are for cans of soup. Attempting to manipulate a creative sound in an effort to boost popularity is of course business. Die hard Spyro Gyra fans would tell you even a luke warm release is light years better than most artists best efforts, now Spyro Gyra is back better than ever!
Tracks: Serious Delivery; Wishful Thinking; Not Unlike That; Sorbet; I Know What You Mingus; Off The Cuff; Clubhouse Jam; Odds Get Even; Who Knew!
Personnel: Jay Beckenstein: Saxophones; Tom Schuman: Keyboards; Julio Fernandez: Guitars; Scott Ambush: Bass; Lee Pearson: Drums & Percussion.